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Fridge Brilliance
  • I first read Calvin and Hobbes when I was nine, and thought it was quite funny. In the twenty years since, I've reread the series many times, and it feels like every time I do, another strip makes sense, or I notice a double meaning where I didn't see it before. That comic is an entire showroom of fridges.
    • I just realized that both characters are named after Renaissance philosophers. That is some heavy stuff for a comic strip.
    • See Late to the Punchline, but a lot of comics also only make sense when you take into account the time in which they were written; Calvin's self-centeredness as a critique of attitudes in The '80s, his taste in comic books and movies being a jab at the then-ongoing Dark Age, and so on. To a kid born after 2000 reading this, they're probably going to be even more confused, but still laughing at timeless gags.
      • I'm not sure the comic books are supposed to symbolize anything; Watterson openly says he hates comic books in the 10th anniversary collection.
      • To be fair, just because he doesn't like comic books doesn't mean he wouldn't use them symbolically. Not all symbolism is positive.
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    • In the story where Calvin was in the class play about nutrition, he told his mom that he'd be playing "a great dramatic role" that would leave the audience in tears. He was playing an onion. I only just realized the hidden joke there... Bravo to Mr. Watterson, especially if it was intentional.
      • It almost certainly was the entire point of the punchline...though it wasn't exactly obvious to me at the time either.
  • It just hit me that Calvin is the epitome of the Byronic Hero.
  • One of the story arcs has Hobbes shaving Calvin's head. In Latin, Calvin means "bald."
  • Numerous strips have Calvin claim that he's predestined for greatness. Calvin is named after John Calvin, founder of Calvinism, which has predestination as a doctrine.
  • In one of the last strips, Calvin grosses out Susie by stuffing manicotti down his shirt and pretending his guts are exploding out of his stomach. He then mentions to himself in the final panel that he should try this in class. Given that the series never evolved timewise from Calvin's standpoint (in that he was perpetually 6 years old and stuck in the same grade for the series' run) could this possibly be THE noodle incident?
    • Nope. "No one can prove I did that!!" Pretty easy to prove he did that...
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    • This is not the Noodle Incident, not by a long shot. Firstly, Watterson had said he would never depict it in the strip. Secondly, for a kid who produced a safety poster called "Be Careful or Be Roadkill," graphically illustrated it using chunky spaghetti sauce, and was then indignant that his poster lost the contest, this troper hardly thinks Calvin would be so embarrassed by this instance as to deny that it happened or to claim that that no one could prove he'd done it.
    • In one strip, Calvin mentions he 'cooked some noodles' as a visual aid about his five-minute presentation about the brain. Said five-minute report, Calvin being Calvin, consists of words: 'To begin with, brain is part of central nervous system. Now I'll pause for a few moments, so you all can write that down.' Nothing is ever heard about the rest of presentation, nor is the paper bag with noodles seen. Of course, if this was in any way related with THE noodle incident, limits of the Implausible Deniability would have to be somewhat stretched even in the Calvinverse.
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  • Remember that arc where Calvin's house was robbed while his family was away? One wonders why it concluded simply with Calvin griping to Hobbes about how their television was stolen, instead of the happier ending where Calvin's Mom goes to sleep understanding the family is safe and that's all that matters. Then it occurs: (A) this is "Calvin and Hobbes", so it's rather their story and (B) In a way, it is a happy conclusion to the arc. As long as Calvin has something to complain about, things are back to normal and all's right with the world once more.
  • One early strip consisted of Calvin asking his dad a bunch of questions which the latter honestly admitted to not knowing the answers to. This prompted a rather annoyed Calvin to state that perhaps Dad shouldn't be a parent. This would certainly explain why Dad started lying to his kid ever since.
  • The second strip ever shows Calvin asking his dad what he should do with the tiger he's caught. His dad's response? "Bring him home and stuff him." Maybe Hobbes' perception filter powers work two ways: Calvin wants to see a real tiger, so he does. His parents want to see a stuffed tiger, so they do!
  • The arc where Calvin locked Rosalyn out of the house started when he was (as always) sent to bed early. This time, she got upset when she overheard him bringing up the time he threatened to flush down her science notes. Calvin's antics that night made Rosalyn flunk the test which explains why she took it out on him.
  • The story arc where Calvin tries to weasel out of writing a story for school by picking it up from the future seems like it might be incredibly paradoxical at first, but it actually flows together quite well. The 6:30 Calvin doesn't know about the implications of time travel, the 7:30 Calvin is older and wiser from having gone through the whole adventure and is able to explain it to him, and the 8:30 Calvin is merely keeping up appearances to ensure a Stable Time Loop is in effect, since he knows that the 6:30 and 8:30 Hobbeses will write the story themselves and save him all the trouble.
  • There was once a comic strip where Calvin says the United States was founded around 200 B.C. Calvin says that B.C. stands for Before Calvin instead of Before Christ. If the United States was founded in 1776, it must imply that Calvin was born in 1976. It makes sense considering that the first Calvin and Hobbes strip was published in 1985. Though Calvin would have been nine by then, and it's moot since Calvin stays the same age no matter what the year is. Want to know Calvin's birth year? The year of any given strip, minus six.
    • Notice that he says "around 200 BC". A few years off isn't that big of rounding error.
  • Hobbes' examples of "Imaginary Numbers" (Eleventeen, Thirty-Twelve) actually would be valid numbers... in base twelve. They'd be written as 1A and 3B, respectively. note  They're definitely not imaginary numbers, though, in any sense of the word, so he's more wrong than ever — Ditzy Genius? —Baffle Blend
  • The Mars arc may be Anvilicious, but it's actually a more useful and relevant lesson for Calvin than the standard Green Aesop if you think about it. In a one-shot strip, Calvin complains about global warming, prompting his mother to wryly comment how he wants to be chauffeured everywhere that's more than a block away. Calvin has enough of a sense of social responsibility to be concerned about problems with the environment, but not enough to realize how he contributes to them, so the Mars arc was a nice wake-up call for him regarding the latter.—Tropers/Valiona
  • One thing about the Rosalyn arc where Calvin and Hobbes attempt to escape out his window with a Bedsheet Ladder I realized just now: when she scolds him, he responds with a Nazi salute and saying "Jawohl, mein Führer"... whereupon Rosalyn grabs the front of his shirt and asks him "Care to repeat that little comment?". Rosalyn's explicitly stated to be a high school student in the comic, so it's likely she learned about Nazis in class at some point and understandably took offense to what he said.
  • Susie has a tendency to knock Calvin into next week in retaliation for his jerkish behavior but in an earlier arc, his insults were enough to reduce her to tears. Aside from happening at an earlier point in the comic strip, her initial lack of violence towards him could've been by virtue of not knowing him too well yet but overtime, she got more and more able to do her homework on him in order to figure out how best to dish it back to him. Even in some earlier strips, there were developing signs of it in that Susie once threatened to have him physically sent to the principal's office quick enough that he'd have gone through a time warp and she sent a pinecone he threw back at him with a lacrosse stick. In other words, Susie really Took a Level in Badass.
  • Why does Hobbes hate Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs so much? Not only is chocolate toxic to cats, but cats are obligate carnivores, and because of this, they lack the proper taste buds to taste sweet foods.
  • In the baseball arc, Calvin gets harshly bullied by the kids and the coach not only neglects to stop it but flat out calls him a "quitter". Values Dissonance aside, if he told his parents, they'd likely respond with apathy and/or his father would once again tell him "it builds character". Even then, Calvin has a characteristic distrust of authority anyway, so all things considered, it's no surprise he didn't tell anyone other than Hobbes.
  • Anyone else remember Calvin's "Be Prepared" kit? He put together a bunch of items that are meant to be random and useless, but if you really think about it, all the junk in the kit will actually really come in handy in the right situations:
    • The Umbrella, as Calvin himself states, can be used to achieve limited gliding by acting as a parachute, but it can also come in handy to both keep one dry during a rainstorm and act as tarp to protect against the sun's rays.
    • The dart gun could be used to momentarily distract a enemy while he makes a getaway, or be used in a non-lethal weapon fight like a Nerf gun battle.
    • The comic books...can be used for entertainment.
    • The gum can be a clean alternative to smoking, or it can be traded to someone for food or help.
    • The wrench is invaluable for repairing any vehicles Calvin might come across, and if he ever gets in trouble he can bash someone's face in with it.
    • The map of Montana...well, if he gets lost in Montana...
    • The eraser can be used properly if Calvin adds a pencil to the kit - then he will be able to put some markings on his map, and then erase them when he's done with them.
    • The rock, depending on its size, can be either a resting place, a support for Calvin to put his map on, or it can simply be thrown at any enemy he comes across.
    • The book on bugs is crucial for knowing the local bugs of the area, and how to trap and/or avoid them.

Fridge Horror

  • Calvin is often seen creating cities/towns, whether out of sand or snow or something else. Nearly every single time, Calvin ends up destroying what he created, sometimes with a Slasher Smile to go with it. A good example here. To a younger reader not really paying attention to the detail in Calvin's narration, he/she might just see it as Calvin and Hobbes playing in the sand and Hobbes being spooked for no reason. Dig just a tiny bit deeper though, and you realize that Calvin, who could do WHATEVER HE WANTED with the "little town" he created, chose to poison nearly the entire populace to the point that the cancer rate in the town TRIPLES. And he DOESN'T EVEN CARE. What the hell, Calvin?
    • Real-world power plants and industrial concerns, in an effort to maximize profits, often pollute to the point of slowly and methodically poisoning everybody who lives in the smog radius. Little Calvin was just trying to be realistic.
      • Not only that, but since it's written in text, who knows just how Calvin is narrating it - for all you know, he's saying it in a very very dramatic tone of voice.
      • In fact, I read it as Hobbes being more spooked at the real-world scenario Calvin is describing than Calvin's own callousness. It's hardly the only time Calvin's "play" is used by Watterson to deliver a political statement.
    • While Calvin's imaginary destruction CAN get a little disturbing, it's actually perfectly normal, small children are often like this when they play. A genuine sign that something is wrong would be if he tortured living animals, which is something Calvin would never do.
    • Actually this is more Hilarious in Hindsight - because guess what people did when video games like SimCity, The Sims and RollerCoaster Tycoon came out? Why, flatten the city they build with disasters, torture and murder their sims, and build rides designed specifically to kill peeps!
      • More than enough research has shown that seemingly violent play in imaginary situations is one of the ways small children cope with their slowly growing awareness of the darker side of the real world. Adults too often confuse the Suspension of Disbelief of small children with actual belief: the children know perfectly well that the imaginary people killed in the play are entirely imaginary even if they lack the vocabulary to easily explain that.
      • As Ursula K. LeGuin has pointed out, children are perfectly aware that there are real life equivalents to "dragons" in this world: what stories reassure children is that there are also "dragon-slayers", something about which children are less certain.
  • A strip has Calvin's mother ask what happened to a kid that mocked Calvin for bringing a stuffed tiger to school. His response: "Hobbes ate him." Calvin — of course — believes Hobbes did, and the fact seems to be no one mocks Calvin about that. Assuming Calvin isn't just making that up, that leaves us with two options: If Hobbes is real, that means he ate a kid. If Hobbes isn't real, that means Calvin might have done something really gory to said kid.
    • This might even explain why Moe is so scared when Calvin invites him to take Hobbes later — he remembers what happened to the last kid who messed with Calvin's "teddy bear." Though it's worth noting that in later strips, Calvin rarely takes Hobbes to school, as evidenced by the "pouncing on him when he gets home" Running Gag. It's possible the opportunity just doesn't come up very often; maybe, if Hobbes isn't real, Calvin threw him on somebody and gave him a real scare.
      • Read that arc again, Moe refused to take Hobbes because he thought Calvin was setting him up to get in trouble and get sent to the principal.
    • I always figured maybe the kid got in trouble for picking on Calvin, and then moved/got expelled, and Calvin (fallaciously) bragged to his fellow students that Hobbes ate him so Calvin wouldn't be picked on anymore.
    • Not likely. Aside from throwing snowballs or water balloons and relatively harmless pranks in general, Calvin isn't shown to have violent tendencies to the point where he should be viewed with concern. Plus, he often cannot hold his own against Hobbes, Moe, Rosalyn and even Susie Derkins.
  • An example occurs in canon, when Calvin and Hobbes are eating breakfast. Note that it doesn't make much sense, as someone could have simply observed a baby cow nursing from its mother, noticed that babies drink their mothers' milk, and realized that humans could drink cow milk too.
    Calvin: The more you think about things, the weirder they seem. Take this milk. Why do we drink cow milk?? Who was the guy who first looked at a cow and said. "I think I’ll drink whatever comes out of these things when I squeeze 'em!"? Isn't that weird?
    Hobbes: (disgusted expression) I think conversation should be kept to a minimum until afternoon.
  • If you interpret Hobbes as a figment of Calvin's imagination, then how do you explain Calvin getting beat up whenever Hobbes pounces on him? Oh no... Don't tell me Calvin is scratching himself up.
    • I once saw someone who wrote that they couldn't read Calvin and Hobbes anymore since they realized that meant that Calvin was really getting beat up at school.
      • That doesn't make any sense, because that would mean he rides the bus home in that condition, which means that the other kids and the bus driver would notice.
      • It could just be the results of Moe beating Calvin up at school.
    • It's possible that he manages to rough himself up play-wrestling with Hobbes and rolling around on the ground even though Hobbes is really just a stuffed toy that can't actually fight back.
      • This. We see several cartoons of Susie and Calvin's mom actually watch him wrestle in the dirt with Hobbes, not to mention that Hobbes often needs stitches after their fights.
      • This. I've known several very imaginative kids who would often get dirty and scratched up when fighting some imaginary enemies. And would roll around in the dirt pretending to wrestle some bad guy or other when they were playing at being super heroes or spys or ninjas.
  • Calvin's only friend is Hobbes. Let that sink in. Moe picks on him, and apart from the antagonistic relationship he has with Susie, Calvin is never seen with other kids, unless they are making fun of him! No wonder he hates school so much...
    • To be fair, Susie tries very hard to be friends with Calvin, even after he treats her like dirt time and time again. And even when Calvin gives in and agrees to play with Susie, he ends up being a jerk to her for no good reason, while she's just trying to be nice and have fun! He also does the same thing to Hobbes, although Hobbes is sometimes a jerk too.
    • But during the second duplicator arc, Good Calvin's attempts to be nice to Susie are rejected, causing him to call out the original Calvin for his behavior.
    • Calvin hardly seems to mind being a loner though, and he will never even try to become friends with the other children (except for maybe with Susie).
  • In the Tracer Bullet arc where Calvin is trying to solve a word problem, Calvin attempts to copy Susie's answer. In Tracer's world, this is translated as the detective heading over to "the Derkins dame" to get information. When Susie refuses to tell Calvin anything, Tracer remarks that somebody "got to her first and shut her up good." The implication seems to be that she was killed.
    • Of course not. That means someone told her not to tell the answer to Calvin. Miss Wormwood of course.
    • And I think the intended implication within the Tracer Bullet scenario is that she was bribed.
  • If this strip is any indication, Moe's (and to a less vicious extent, Hobbes') constant abuse is having an adverse affect on Calvin...
  • Some of Calvin's Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane life-threatening situations qualify:
    • The monsters under Calvin's bed which reaches its peak in "Nauseous Noctrine". Calvin imagines himself getting eaten by monsters and his parents discovering his remains. For added fridge horror, his tombstone reads: "Here lies Calvin, devoured in his bed by a monster. If only we had treated him better", implying his parents knew about it, but did nothing to save him.
    • The killer bicycle, which his dad constantly mistakes as him learning how to balance.
      • Such anthropomorphosis is a common childhood response in such situations.
    • In one early Sunday strip, a monster made of soap-suds attempts to drown Calvin in the bathtub. As he screams for help, Calvin's mom yells at him to stop splashing because she doesn't want to clean up the mess he made.
      • It's unlikely that, if Calvin were actually in imminent mortal danger, he would have the presence of mind to pretend. More likely he's just making up stories for fun. Little kids do tend to mess around in the tub a lot.
  • There are a couple of strips where Susie frets about her educational future and how it might suffer thanks to Calvin, like fearing getting a bad grade on a project she's partnered with him will knock her down to a second-rate college, as well as thinking Calvin getting her sent to the principal's office will jeopardize her Master's. She's in first grade. A first grader should not be worrying about college so soon, especially since most colleges rarely care about anything before high school. What kind of Education Mama does she live with that this kind of thing is being hammered in so soon?
    • Actually, this was a common fear at the time the comic strips first came out, with news reports discussing parents who enrolled their newborns on years-long waiting lists for prestigious and highly expensive private pre-schools (not schools but pre-schools). Watterson was addressing what were contemporary issues at the time.
    • On one hand, it makes enough sense considering she generally does well in school (and the story arc with the Mercury assignment seems to imply she won't accept anything less than perfect). On the other hand, she's a kid and it's alternately possible that she's just being hyperbolic as would be typical for someone her age.
  • In a 1990 Sunday strip, Hobbes presents Calvin with a hypothetical question as to what he'd do if he had only the remainder of the day to live. Judging by the Death Glare he gives Calvin as well as emphatically pointing out he could easily avoid that fate, that raises the question: what would Hobbes have done if Calvin wasn't intimidated into dropping his intent to splash him with a water balloon? It really sounds like he had given an Implied Death Threat towards his only friend.
  • This bit of Fridge Horror sort of goes both ways: in the "good duplicate" arc, Susie response to Good Calvin's attempts at kindness is downright brusque, going so far as to threaten to beat him up after he tries to send her a love note. If we're to assume that he didn't just imagine the whole thing, it raises two possibilities. Calvin's constant teasing and attacks on Susie could be pushing her past her limits and if Calvin ever actually tried to change his ways towards her, she'd probably be intent on repaying it with violence.
  • Hobbes, despite being Calvin's only friend, often bullies and torments him. If you accept the interpretation that Hobbes is imaginary, it makes you wonder if this represents how Calvin truly feels about himself.
  • Calvin is sometimes seen trying to get his hands on weapons, such as asking his dad where he keeps his gunsnote  when Rosalyn comes over, and trying to call a store to see if they have any explosives to use on Susie. Combine this with how often he's bullied at school... yeah.
  • Whenever Susie is the butt of Calvin's pranks, she immediately strikes back hard (even if he fails to land a hit) which the strip doesn't ever acknowledge as wrong and she never gets punished nor feels any remorse for it. Considering this is his way of expressing his feelings for her, it's hard not to imagine that should the two ever develop a relationship in the future, she'd physically abuse him on a regular basis at the smallest provocation and he'd be left to fend for himself.

Fridge Logic

  • Applied rigorously by Calvin and Hobbes. One example is when Calvin declared math to be a religion:
    Calvin: You take two numbers and when you add them, they magically become one new number! No one can say how it happens. You either believe it or you don't. This whole book is full of things that have to be accepted on faith! It's a religion!
    Hobbes: And in the public schools no less. Call a lawyer.
    • That sounds more like Chewbacca Defense or Insane Troll Logic.
      • It's more like a small child's efforts to grapple with the notions of postulates and axioms, some of the more abstract notions found in higher level mathematics and philosophy.
    • Calvin's analogy would have worked better if he had used algebra (not something so simple as addition) as an example.
      • Calvin is SIX. A very SMART six-year old, but still a six-year old. He is nowhere near algebra. So from such a childish standpoint, the analogy actually sort of works.
      • And yet he once got the Train Problem in a school quiz. (middle school level)
      • Calvin isnt actually getting the advanced question we see, they're shown from the standpoint of a six-year old with hyperactivity and what may or may not be learning disabilities, it's funnier to see him struggle with problems even an adult might have issues with than simple, realistic grade school problems.
  • He did it twice:
    Calvin: This whole Santa Claus thing just doesn't make sense. Why all the secrecy? Why all the mystery? If the guy exists why doesn't he ever show himself and prove it? And if he doesn't exist what's the meaning of all this?
    Hobbes: I dunno. Isn't this a religious holiday?
    Calvin: Yeah, but actually, I've got the same questions about God.

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